The South Mecklenburg boys’ swim team made a historic run in the pool this season. Charlotte Catholic’s Nora McCullagh continued a historic career.
McCullagh, who helped her team to a 14th straight state title, is the All-Observer girls’ swimmer of the year. Her coach, Brian Gross, is the girls’ coach of the year.
South Meck swim coach Leslie Berens led the Sabres to their first regional title since 1991 and their first state title in 26 years. She is the boys’ swim coach of the year, after watching the Sabres win that title in dramatic fashion. South beat Morrisville Green Hope in the state finals 232-230 at the end of the final event, the 400 free relay.
Fort Mill swimmer Zach Piedt, a Navy recruit, is boys’ swimmer of the year, after setting S.C. state records in the 50 and 100 freestyles.
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Piedt had an Observer-best 20.71 in the 50 freestyle, breaking the previous S.C. record by .07 seconds. Piedt also had an Observer-area best 45.14 in the 100 freestyle, smashing the previous S.C. mark here by .18.
The Fort Mill standout also led the Yellow Jackets’ 200 medley relay and 200 freestyle relay to S.C. AAAA state titles as well as leading the team to a state runner-up finish.
McCullagh, a Texas recruit, earned state finals’ meet MVP for the third year in a row, winning the 50 freestyle and 100 backstroke state championships, while also helping the 200-medley relay and 200-freestyle relay to state titles. McCullagh has won 13 state titles in her career (six individual/seven relays).
McCullagh has qualified for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials in the 50 and 100 freestyle.
McCullagh’s coach, Gross, has played a lead role in leading his Cougars’ team to all 14 state titles in each of the state four classifications (1A, 2A, 3A, 4A).
Gross has led Catholic’s girls to state titles at the highest level (class 4A) in each of the past two seasons, beating 2012 and 2013 4A champion Hough (4A state runner-up each of the past two years) in the process.
No matter how often his girls win it all, Gross said it never gets old.
"Every year is a new challenge and this year was no different because we had a smaller (girls) team, and didn’t have the depth we’ve had in the past," said Gross, also pointing to his divers as a big key for this team. "Our girls (Catholic) really know how to step up and rise to the occasion at states. They do it every year, which is amazing."
All Charlotte Observer Boys Swim Team
50 Freestyle: Zach Piedt, Fort Mill, Sr.: U.S. Naval Academy-bound swimmer won a S.C. AAAA title in a state record 20.71.
100 Freestyle: Zach Piedt, Fort Mill, Sr.: Another S.C. AAAA title in another state record, 45.14.
200 Freestyle: Trey Poff, Hough, Sr.: N.C. State signee won 4A state championship in 1:39.65.
500 Freestyle: Trey Poff, Hough, Sr.: 4A West Regional champion in the longest event, was also 4A state runner-up (4:30.47).
100 Butterfly: Jackson Smith, Myers Park, Sr.: South Carolina signee won 4A state championship with 49.63, also Southwestern 4A conference swimmer of the year.
100 Backstroke: Nathan Murray, South Mecklenburg, Jr.: 4A state runner-up (50.31, school-record) just .04 from first-place, also 4A West Regional, SoMeck8 conference champion.
100 Breaststroke: Jacob Rauch, South Mecklenburg, Fr.: 4A state runner-up (57.57), 4A West Regional champion as a freshman.
200 Individual Medley: Jackson Smith, Myers Park, Sr.: Nearly won another state, individual title with 4A state runner-up finish (1:51.59). Won 4A West Regional title .
Diving: Jesse Mazen, Cuthbertson, Sr.: Cavaliers standout won 3A state diving championship (380.8).
200 Medley Relay: South Mecklenburg (Nathan Murray, Jacob Rauch, Graham Cooper, Graham Weaver): Sabre foursome was unbeaten in the regular season , won SoMeck8 conference title, 4A West Regional title, and earned 4A state runner-up withschool-record time 1:33.82.
200 Freestyle Relay: South Mecklenburg ( Jacob Rauch, Luke Johnson, Kellen Stillman, Graham Weaver): Another strong finish for this relay, taking third place at the 4A state meet (1:26.11, school record), and was 4A West Regional runner-up.
400 Freestyle Relay: Hough (Coleman Manchester, John Matysek, Evan Heldman, T. Poff): Husky relay swam to area-best third place at 4A state meet (3:09.22), 4A West Regional champion.
50 Freestyle: Connor Long, Ardrey Kell, Sr./Graham Weaver, South Mecklenburg, Jr.
100 Freestyle: Graham Weaver, South Mecklenburg, Jr.
200 Freestyle: Jacob Kohlhoff, Fort Mill, Sr.
500 Freestyle: Nathan Murray, South Mecklenburg, Jr.
100 Butterfly: Connor Long, Ardrey Kell, Sr.
100 Backstroke: Ikenna Eruchalu, Charlotte Latin, So./Alexander McMurry, Hough, So.
100 Breaststroke: Danny Dilks, Mount Pleasant, Jr./Brandon Keller, Olympic, Sr./Eddie Cochell, Providence Day, Sr.
200 Individual Medley: Evan Heldman, Hough, Sr.
Diving: Nick Gaberina, Pine Lake Prep, Fr./Logan Andrews, Hough, So.
200 Medley Relay: Ardrey Kell (Grant Murchison, Nick Spina, Jack Eudy, C. Long).
200 Freestyle Relay: Ardrey Kell (G. Murchison, N. Spina, J. Eudy, C. Long).
400 Freestyle Relay: South Mecklenburg (Kellen Stillman, Weston Youngblood, Graham Cooper, Nathan Murray).
All-Observer Girls’ Swim Team
50 Freestyle: Nora McCullagh, Charlotte Catholic, Sr.: Signed with Texas. 4A champion in the state’s fastest event for the third straight year with a 22.93.
100 Freestyle: Emily Allen, Hough, Sr.: Sign with Tennessee. 4A state champion all four years of Hough career in this event. Best time: 49.85.
200 Freestyle: Erika Brown, Hough, Jr.: Edged out Catholic’s Rebecca Postoll by .03 seconds to win 4A state title (1:46.47), also 4A West Regional runner-up.
500 Freestyle: Rebecca Postoll, Charlotte Catholic, Sr.: Signed with Michigan. 4A state champion (4:47.02) and 4A West Regional champion.
100 Butterfly: Alyssa Marsh, Pine Lake Prep, Jr.: 1A-2A state champion(54.08). Was also 1A-2A state championship’s most outstanding swimmer for the second year in row.
100 Backstroke: Nora McCullagh, Charlotte Catholic, Sr.: Another 4A state championship in backstroke with 54.19.
100 Breaststroke: Megan Dupay, Hough, Jr.: Huskies standout was third at 4A state meet with area-best 1:03.24.
200 Individual Medley: Sara Stranick, Charlotte Catholic, Sr.: Signed with Virginia. Was 4A state runner-up with 2:02.06 time .
Diving: Nikki Canale, Marvin Ridge, So./Adyson Lowe, Lake Norman Charter, Sr.: Canale was 3A state champion with 511.6 points; Lowe 1A/2A state champion with 466.60.
200 Medley Relay: Charlotte Catholic (Erin McCullagh, Sara Stranick, Nora McCullagh, Rebecca Postoll): Set tone in the 4A state meet’s first event (1:43.7), beating rest of field by nearly three seconds to claim state title.
200 Freestyle Relay: Charlotte Catholic (Julia Menkhaus, Sara Stranick, Rebecca Postoll, Nora McCullagh): Another Catholic relay, another 4A state title in a blistering 1:33.68.
400 Freestyle Relay: Hough (Heidi Love, Erika Brown, Megan Dupay, Emily Allen): Huskies relay rolled past the field by nearly five seconds in the state meet’s final event.
50 Freestyle: Alyssa Marsh, Pine Lake Prep, Jr.
100 Freestyle: Christina Lappin, Lincoln Charter, Jr.
200 Freestyle: Rebecca Postoll, Charlotte Catholic, Sr.
500 Freestyle: Erika Brown, Hough, Jr.
100 Butterfly: Carolyn Kammeyer, Ardrey Kell, Jr./Julia Menkhaus, Charlotte Catholic, Fr.
100 Backstroke: Lexi Souther, Parkwood, Jr.
100 Breaststroke: Sara Stranick, Charlotte Catholic, Sr./Caroline Hauder, Marvin Ridge, So.
200 Individual Medley: Margaret Higgs, Hough, So.
Diving: Sara Maleski, Marvin Ridge, Sr./Jocelyn Porter, Hough, So.
200 Medley Relay: Fort Mill (Erynn Black, Madison Coughlen, Meg Wiggins, Madison Little).
200 Freestyle Relay: Hough (Heidi Love, Lillian Higgs, Erika Brown, Emily Allen).
400 Freestyle Relay: Marvin Ridge (Lexie White, Alex Bonfilio, Abby House, Caroline Hauder).